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Rosberg keeps Monaco pole following investigation

Tense: the two Mercedes drivers barely acknowledged each other following the controversy

By Alan Baldwin

GERMANY’S Nico Rosberg was allowed to keep a controversial pole position at the Monaco Grand Prix on Saturday after an incident that denied unhappy Mercedes team-mate and championship leader Lewis Hamilton the chance to beat him.

Formula One stewards launched an investigation and summoned the German’s team after Rosberg locked-up on the way down to Mirabeau at the key moment in qualifying and skidded into the escape road.

The excursion, with Rosberg putting the car into reverse, brought out the yellow warning flags just as Hamilton was on his final quick lap.
Hamilton, winner of the last four races but never before on pole in the principality, had been faster through the first sector of his final quick lap but had to settle for second place on the starting grid for the season’s showcase race.

“I thought it was over,” a smiling Rosberg, last year’s winner and Hamilton’s closest title rival, told reporters before the enquiry was announced. “I’m happy it worked out. Pole at home is fantastic – it couldn’t be better.

“Of course I’m sorry for what happened to Lewis. I didn’t know where exactly he was. But once I was reversing I didn’t see who was coming up. Of course it’s not great, but that’s the way it is,” he added.

Hamilton, a forced smile on his face as he joined Rosberg for a post-qualifying news conference, said it was ‘ironic’ for his rival to secure pole in such a fashion.
Speaking later to the BBC, the Briton went further. Asked whether he felt Rosberg had done it on purpose, he replied: ‘potentially’.
However, Mercedes motorsport director Toto Wolff rejected that: “I don’t think anybody does that deliberately in modern Formula One,” he told reporters.

“He (Rosberg) missed his braking, which was in order to beat his team mate, and he took the exit. That’s it. There is nothing to add.
“That moment is very intense when you lose out in qualifying to your team mate, but give it half an hour and he will have calmed down.”
The incident, and stewards’ actions, nonetheless revived memories of Michael Schumacher’s infamous 2006 pole lap when the seven-time world champion blatantly blocked the Rascasse corner and prevented Renault’s Fernando Alonso from going faster.

After eight hours of deliberation, Ferrari’s German driver was sent to the back of the grid for an ‘incorrect action’.

 

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